France and Portugal Vacation: 7 May 2023 - From Bordeaux to Toulouse

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Sunday, May 7 - From Bordeaux to Toulouse

On Sunday, we were up at 7:00 am and down to breakfast right at 8:00. We packed up our stuff before we set out for out last sight in Bordeaux so we'd be able to check out quickly later in the morning. The Pey-Berland bell tower was our morning destination, just a short walk away on the other side of the nearby cathedral. Right at our ticketed tour time of 10:00, we started the climb up the tower's 233 steps! There are two observation levels in the tower, each offering spectacular 360° views of the city. On the first level, plaques explained some of the city's history and pointed out special landmarks. The top level is just a narrow walkway around the base of the spire, high enough to look down on the adjacent cathedral and roadways and close enough to the peak to admire the stone work.

After our descent, we perused the small market area set up in the square at the base of the tower, selling meats including rotisserie chickens, fruits and vegetables, and of course breads and pastries. Neil just had to stop to get two more canelés for the journey to Toulouse.

Photos from the tour Pey-Berland (47 images)

We got back to the guest house to finish packing and check out just before 11:00. Taking the tram to Gare St-Jean was easy, and our train to Toulouse left on time.

Photos from the journey to Toulouse (15 images)

Arriving in Toulouse, we hopped on the subway and took the short ride to the Capitole station. The tourism office is as easy to find as your nose on your face, and our hotel was on the same block but around the corner. Our lodging this time was the grandest hotel of them all, the Grand Hôtel de l'Opéra - gorgeous, perfectly appointed, and in a perfectly-centered city location.

The uniformed front desk staff were fabulously friendly and happily helpful in getting us checked in and informing us of some interesting city happenings, one of which was that our arrival day was a day where several museums and points of interest were free to enter!

Photos from the hotel (18 images)

We dropped off our stuff and walked to the tourism office with the thought of getting tickets to tour the nearby city of Carcassonne the next day, only to find out the bus schedule had changed since our guide book was published. However, we could book a train for a special regional holiday price of 1 Euro to get there instead! Since there was plenty of daylight left, we went ahead over to the Couvent des Jacobins. This 13th-century monastery was a major sight on our list anyway, but after learning that this day was a free day, we were glad to be able to pay it a visit right then. The church itself was pretty austere, but the cloister and other side rooms, including a pretty extensive opera museum, were magnificent.

Photos from the Jacobins Convent (66 images)

The weather was getting pretty gray and showers were predicted, so we stopped by the hotel for our rain gear (just Neil's rain jacket and Ginger's shiny new umbrella) and then set out toward the Basilique Saint-Sernin. After touring the church inside and out, on our way back to the hotel we got caught in a decently heavy rain and ducked in to an empanada shop for a quick bite for dinner. Back at the hotel, the wi-fi was a struggle, so Fabien at the front desk generously helped us out in booking train tickets to Carcassonne for the next day. We were able to take advantage of a 1 Euro fare one way but regular price the other way. Still a steal.

Photos from Sunday evening (22 images)

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